What Is Product Management: Everything You Need to Know About
The more you learn about product management, the clearer it becomes that there is no one way to define it.
There are unique goals and challenges for every product – and product management should reflect those.
An approach that’s unique and customized is what you need to aim for.
Here’s a guide to help you understand the process better to ship stronger, higher-performing products.
Let’s make an introduction to product management.
Product management covers every step of the product lifecycle – from developing product strategies and roadmaps to working with engineers and designers.
In a nutshell, it is all about creating and bringing to market products that customers will love.
Product managers really wear many hats. Assuring the customer’s voice is heard, they put all the small pieces of the product development together.
In technology, where products are swiftly replaced with newer solutions, understanding customers and creating tailored solutions is more crucial than ever.
It wouldn’t be possible without well-executed product management.
Why is it so vital for the product success?
Product management is responsible for the product strategy and making sure it’s aligned with the business goals. The product manager collaborates with different teams to ensure everyone is on the same page and works together towards a common goal – successful product delivery.
Product managers are the voice of the customer. They make sure their team understands the customer’s problem and that the product is solving it in the most efficient way.
They need to ensure everyone is happy with the product direction and that the development team is building the right features to meet this particular market needs. All of this takes place while keeping in mind the business goals, budget, and time constraints.
In other words:
Product management is all about getting the right product to the market at the right time and making sure it’s profitable.
Without it, business would wander blindly.
Despite the fact that product management covers many different aspects, it can be broken down into three following categories:
Developing and executing strategy. It includes setting business objectives, target markets, pricing, and product launch plans. Product management is like a bridge that fills the communication gap between sales, product marketing, and business development teams.
Defining requirements and ensuring that the engineering team is able to deliver on them. This category also contains technical risk management that is inevitable with building any new product.
Making sure that the final product is not only technologically sound but also user-friendly and solves a real problem for its target audience. Creating prototypes, conducting user research, and managing beta testing are all part of this area.
Creating a new product is a complex process, full of challenges and opportunities. From inception to launch, there are six distinct phases that every product goes through – no matter whether it’s a physical product or a digital product/service.
What are the phases in product management?
This is where it all begins – with an idea. It could be inspired by a problem your team discussed during the brainstorming session or through market research.
Whatever the source of the inspiration, it’s important to have a clear and concise product vision. It will serve as a north star for the rest of the product development process, guiding your team forward in the right direction.
In this phase, it is essential to establish a shared understanding of:
- What you’re going to build?
- Who is it for?
- And most importantly – why.
It goes without saying that knowing your customer is key to the success of your product.
And the sky is the limit for those successful companies that get it right.
That’s why emphasizing a deep understanding of customers’ wants and needs is so vital for a company’s growth.
Product management starts with creating user personas. It’s identifying fictional customers that represent specific customer types. The team needs to answer the questions of who they are and what are their desires and pain points. This will help to segment the target audience and deliver them a more personalized product.
Studying customers’ behaviors is the next step. This stage is all about observing and gathering qualitative and quantitative data that will help you to get a 360-degree view of the customer. Among the factors to consider are the motivations, the pre-purchase actions, or the way the customers respond to product marketing campaigns.
This information will be used to create user journeys – the blueprints of customers’ interactions with the product. Such audience research wouldn’t end with the launch of the product – but conducted regularly would be a vital part of the release process and further product improvements.
With the vision set and customer research done, it’s time to start working on a product strategy. Vision defines a product’s goals, while strategy describes how to reach them.
Here, the primary focus is on setting key milestones and determining when features should be delivered. The whole product strategy should also consider the business model and how it would generate revenue.
Specifically, during this phase, product managers use such tools as:
Internal roadmaps as well as external roadmaps. They should be aligned with the market strategy and business goals.
The former is more detailed and used by the product team to plan their daily work and control the progress. The external is a high-level overview of what to expect from the product in the upcoming months, shared with other departments and stakeholders.
Tip! There are product management tools available to simplify the creation of roadmaps (e.g., Roadmunk). With the templates available, controlling the process and making any changes is much easier.
This is a living document that outlines the features and core functionalities of the product. It should always be up-to-date and understandable for everyone on the team, as well as for stakeholders.
The PRD answers such questions as what will be built, how it would work, and why the feature development is essential for the product.
The product backlog is a list of tasks that the team needs to complete – such as features to develop, user stories, or bugs to fix. It’s a prioritized to-do list for the product development team. The product manager is responsible for maintaining and updating the product backlog.
It’s all about turning the idea into reality. The product management team will work on building the product, following the roadmap and PRD. This is the longest phase of product management as it includes several steps, such as:
- Creating prototypes and wireframes
- Testing them with users
- Writing code
- Fixing bugs
- Releasing an updated product version
Tip! This is where usability testing and debugging tools come in extremely handy. Do you launch the application? With LiveSession – analytics tool – you can find errors faster, do session recordings, and see exactly what needs to be improved.
Even the best product won’t sell itself. That’s why, once the product is launched, the marketing and sales teams need to step in and promote it.
Actually, they should start creating buzz around your product much earlier – execute many pre-launch activities that are aimed at building customer awareness.
They will create necessary materials (e.g., website copy, blog posts, or social media posts) and conduct campaigns to generate leads and drive conversions. The product manager should closely collaborate with the marketing and sales team all this time to ensure that they deliver product-market fit.
What’s more, keep your finger on the pulse, and observe what is going on in the competitive landscape. Market competition research will help you to find the right product positioning and make it stand out among other solutions. It’s also a good benchmark for a well-defined pricing business strategy.
Even when the product is already live, the work of a product manager is far from being over.
The product team needs to track how users interact with the product, what features they use (or don’t use), and whether they achieve their goals. All this data should be collected and analyzed to help the team make informed product decisions about its future and increase customer experience.
Strong product managers have a deep understanding of their target users and are able to translate that into features that meet the needs of their customers. They are also able to work with cross-functional teams to bring a product to market quickly and efficiently.
Among the core skills necessary to be a successful product manager are:
- strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- strategic thinking
- excellent presentation and communication skills
- the ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
- good team-working skills
- good project management skills
- the ability to think creatively
- the ability to use your own initiative
Product management is a complex process that requires not only technical skills but knowledge, experience, and well-defined soft skills.
Although it might seem like a lot of work, remember that you don’t have to go through all the steps alone – build a strong project management team with great product owners in the lead to share the burden and create an amazing product together.
After learning about product management from the backstage, you are more knowledgeable about all the steps involved in product development. Your product management should now be a breeze. Good luck!